The Snow Child – A Review



Eowyn Ivey

I picked this book off the shelf because the title suggested itself, and the navy background with white shadowy images of a girl and a fox appealed to me. Every once in a while you score and I certainly reaped the benefits of my choice.

the snow childThe Snow Child is a tale about a childless couple who relocate to the barrenness of Alaska to begin anew. The lives of Jack and Mabel are shaken by the appearance of a mysterious snow child – a young girl who floats in and out of their home and finds a place in their hearts.

I’ll give the title a 10/10. The title simply states what the book is about. Though the main characters are really Jack and Mabel, the inciting incident  takes place when the snow child enters their lives, and the entire story revolves around their interactions and reactions to the girl. What else could Ivey have called it? The white haired girl? Jack and Mabel’s almost daughter? (actually I kind of like that).

There was something distinctly fairytale-like about the story, possibly because Ivey drew inspiration for the plot from a children’s picture book. I found the tale enchanting; it was magical and real, soothing and chilling. It’s the kind of book you want to read by the fireplace, especially as Ivey’s descriptions were so acute that I could feel the Alaskan wind in my bones. Though the plot is derived from another tale, I would still give it an 8/10. After all, there are no really new stories, just new ways of telling them and Ivey found a deliciously new way.

Mabel is a woman haunted by the memories of her still born child and the reality of her barrenness:


‘I need peace and quiet, she’d told him more than once. She had withered and shrunk in on herself, and it began when they lost that baby.’

‘He remembered the little girl who had tugged at Mabel’s skirts and called her ‘Mama’, mistaking her for another woman, and Mabel looking as if she had been backhanded.’

Jack on the other hand is a man plagued with the need to provide for is wife in a land that is seemingly as barren as her womb. Ivey’s words reveal the naked needs, fears and desires of her characters. I could relate to and sympathise with the pain and longings of the couple, though they were married and middle-aged. The character of the snow child was unique and engaging and Ivey managed to do justice to the secondary characters in the novel. I would have to give her a 9/10.

Any writer that can make their words flow in the way that Ivey does can count themselves lucky. I have to give the writing 9/10. I loved the ending and it’s a book I know I will be reading again soon.


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Oyinkan Braithwaite


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June 2019
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